Factors that Caused King Philip’s War

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Factors that Caused King Philip’s War

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Factors that Caused King Philip’s War


War is a condition were societies are at log heads with one another. They are often characterized by immense destruction, deaths and excessive aggression as a result of usage of irregular or regular military forces. Different scholars have different ways of viewing war; some perceive it as an ancestral aspect of human nature while others see it as a result ecological, social and cultural circumstances. King Philp whose name was Metacomet rose to become the king of Wampanoag after his brother Wamsutta had died. At the beginning of his reign, he resorted to living peacefully with the colonists till he felt that they were encroaching too much on his territory and hostility later broke out. The goal was to stop the Puritan from expanding into their territory.

According to Emily (2017), the leading causes of the war were the increasing colonialist appetite to expand their territory and the execution of some of the men who worked for Metacom. Though other factors such as the death of Metacom’s father weakened the bond that existed between the people of Wampanoag and the first people to settle in the land, the colonists had also refused to undertake trading activities with the Native people who left them with limited resources. The English also sent cattle to deliberately trample over fields owned by the citizens which further angered the people. Though this factor fueled up the antagonism that existed between the two, the issue of land and killing of Metacom’s men were the major points of concern that resulted in the war.

Execution of Three of King Philip’s Warriors

John Sassamon who was Harvard educated and was serving King Philip as his interpreter and advisor.  They accused him of spying on behalf of colonialists (Warren, 2015). According to Brandt (2014), searchers who were looking for John found his body in January 1675 near Middleborough where he had allegedly gone fishing. He had a broken neck and a bruised body. The killing had happened after he had warned the Plymouth authority that King Philip was planning on attacking one of the towns.

One of the praying Indian later came forward claiming to have seen three close counselors of King Philip beating and killing Sassamon. The men were later arrested, questioned and after one of the suspect was ordered to approach the corpse, and it bled, they were tried and found guilty. The people Wampanoag had an old superstition that if a killer approached the murder victim’s body, it would start to bleed, that proved decisive enough to sentence the men to hanging.  Brandt (2015), goes ahead to state that after a few days of their execution the displeased people of Wampanoags decided to attack and in the process, they torched several homesteads. On June 23 when the residents of Plymouth village had gone to a prayer meeting a boy spotted many Indians looting, and in the process, he fired a shot and wounded one of the raiders. Wampanoags responded by killing nine Swansea settlers, and this marked the beginning of the war.

Land Encroachment

Before the war, the English and the Indians had been living harmoniously; they traded ammunitions, tools made of metal and guns for beaver pelts which they sold to people in Europe (Brandt, 2014). The Indians never owned land privately; it was kind of communal. When they were not using the lands for hunting or farming, they sold it to the colonialists for planting and establishing towns. This mutually beneficial relationship was later to come to an end when the English started having more desire for land and were willing to do anything to claim it. Moreover, Brandt states that the English settlement grew rapidly especially around the area of Connecticut River Valley to the western part of the country. The lands which the Indians were willing to sell were depreciating all around the Eastern side of New England. Nevertheless, before the war started, Rhode Islander John Borden who was ng Philip’s friend met with the Wampanoag Sachem to try and settle their disputes. During the meeting, King Philip stated that he was determined not to live till he had no country. The English took the statement as a declaration of war.



We can see from the reasons provided above that greediness and misunderstanding can result in a war which is a tool of mass destruction. The English wanted more and more land which came at the expense of the Indians having insufficient land to farm and sell. Correct measures should be taken to deal with disputes and must be acceptable by all the parties involved.



Brandt, A. (2014, October 30). Blood and Betrayal: King Philip’s War. Retrieved from HISTORYNET: http://www.historynet.com/blood-and-betrayal-king-philips-war.htm

Emily. (2017, February 25). What Were Some of the Causes of King Philip’s War? Retrieved from https://socratic.org/questions/what-were-some-of-the-causes-of-king-philip-s-wa

Warren, J. W. (2015, June 15). King Philip’s War. Retrieved from ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA: https://www.britannica.com/event/King-Philips-War

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